Someone once said, “Plan your work and work your plan.” Or was it, “Plan your woodworking at work, so you can plan on working on wood after work?” Either way, I have a plan. Over the last several years I have spent a good deal of my time building spaces in the virtual world of Second Life. I have designed hundreds of pieces of virtual furniture and I want to learn how to bring them into the real world.
I realize that most readers are now scratching their heads with their tape measures, asking, “What is virtual furniture?” “Why would someone in a virtual world need to sit?” “Why am I still reading this blog?” All of those are reasonable questions, and I am pleased to be able to answer the 1st two.
Second Life is a virtual world where people create avatars, interact, go to lectures, have meetings, conduct business, attend art galleries, and most importantly, explore their creative sides. Strangely enough, when one is attending a meeting, with another person who is sitting at their computer running their avatar, it is important that the host provide seating. The virtual world is so immersive that one feels uncomfortable standing, though they are sitting in real life. Also it makes a space feel more comfortable when it has tables, chairs, grandfather clocks, and art on the walls.
As for why you are still reading this blog, that is likely just a case of poor judgment on your part, and I am not to be blamed.
The point is this. I have spent literally thousands of hours learning how to create and design attractive furniture. I am proud of my designs and if I am to be proud of the designs, when they are built for the real world, I will need to become skilled at every aspect of woodworking.
There is a second point and that is that though I don’t know much about woodworking, I do have a pretty good working knowledge of the 3d design tool Google Sketch up. Because I am new, I am able to offer almost nothing to the wonderful community that is following my daily ramblings. The only area where I might be able to offer guidance is in using Sketch up to design your work. Have you tried it? If you are afraid, don’t be, the technology has been brilliantly designed. There are a plethora of videos that can be found to teach you the basics. In a recent article which I perused (Note: I use perused as it was actually intended to be used, meaning to read thoroughly and for content.), the author was describing the hours spent designing the beautiful piece of furniture he had built. I believe he had spent 300 hours on design alone.
The beauty of Google Sketch up is that you are able to see how a piece might look. Easily change the thickness of a part and do endless small tweaks, until it matches the vision in your mind’s eye. One can also label parts and do any number of things that make it a perfect tool for design work.
I include in today’s blog piece several ‘photos’ which were created entirely in Sketch Up. I should note that each of these was then rendered into a photo quality image using a bit of software which I purchased. I did this so that I might sell the photos along with my other real photos. It isn’t at all necessary for designing a project to buy any additional software.
I lack a good transition, so please stop thinking about Google Sketch up, clear your mind, and accept that I am now changing directions. I should be in politics. I have said in previous posts that I believe in buying the top of the line in tools. This usually comes before a sentence where I describe the low end tool I have just bought. The work horse for woodworkers is the table saw. This is obviously a slight to the ‘Saw Horse’, which is tragic. Knowing this, I am resisting the temptation to buy what I can afford. I am saving up until I can spend $3,000 on the SawStop. Not having a table saw has been both limiting and liberating. I have added a Bosch circular saw with a Freud blade to my tool collection. Figuring out ways to clamp large pieces of wood, and creating guides with other larger pieces of wood, has improved my creative clamping abilities. So I don’t completely mind being patient. Don’t tell my mother. She has told me that ‘patience is a virtue’, to which I have responded with mockery. If she knew that I was performing this virtue, it might result in some counter mockery. Nobody wants that.
People that I trust have told me that the 2nd most important item in a workshop is the router table. I have oscillated back and forth between buying the Kreg table and building my own. As of this moment I am leaning towards building one. It seems like the exercise of building a router table will further advance my education, of course the Kreg table is really pretty, and so it is still a tossup.
To become good enough at woodworking, to build my designs, I will need to do a lot of woodworking. It seems like a catch-22, but I think Joseph Heller would agree that it is not. The decision has been made to focus all my efforts on building work tables, jigs, and accessories for woodworking. Making mistakes on projects that are going to get beat up over time will cause far less mental anguish than botching a design that I love.
I am currently working on a pair of saw horses. They are a design that the late Krenov created. I have cut mortise and tenons. I will need to cut some through mortises. I may even finish the horses, just for the practice.
The last part of my plan is to read everything I can find. My library has 3 books thus far and I am enjoying them. “Selecting and Drying Wood”, “Understanding Wood Finishing” by Bob Flexner, and Popular Woodworking’s, “The Drawer Book”, are all books that I would recommend to friends. I am open to suggestions.
So here is the question of the day:
What are your favorite books on wood working?
Who is your favorite dead English poet?
(Disclaimer, the question of the day may or may not appear on a daily basis. The author reserves the right to substitute a haiku or limerick. He may or may not choose to abandon the question of the day without notice.)
-- Brian Meeks, http://extremelyaverage.com