Jefferson Swivel and Secretary

Friday, May 27, 2011

Moving into the shop...Finally

It's been over a month since we first got the house we are moving in to. We got everything signed yesterday and started the process of moving. I have one load now out to the shop and hopefully if everything goes good I'll get the rest out there today and tomorrow. This shop is huge, I was walking around yesterday once I had my trailer unloaded and I still have so much room, it's going to take a while to get used to that. I'm going from a 20x20 shop to a 30x50. I'll be able to have two workbenches, one for students and my main bench. I have 2 lathes that can now be set up the way I want. It's a dream shop for me. I'm sure I'll fill it up with stuff eventually but man is it nice to have so much room.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Joplin, MO Tornando May 22, 2011

 Here are pictures of the devastation left behind in last nights tornado in Joplin. Joplin is about an hour away from me in Springfield. My cousin just moved in yesterday to a new house there and was unpacking and all that stuff when the tornado hit. My dad, brother, aunt and I, all went down today to help him patch up his roof with tarps and plastic the best we could.

 Until you have either been through a tornado or gone thru it in the aftermath pictures don't even begin to give you the magnitude of how much damage is really there. My cousin was extremely fortunate in that his house just lost shingles, broke windows and lost a couple trees. One street further south of him its completely a different story. Houses totally destroyed, trees laying through homes, cars and trucks flipped over and piled on top of one another. Its a very hard thing to look at, much less live thru.
As of this post there are 116 confirmed deaths. And so much destruction you can't believe it. My brother and I drove by what used to be Home Depot and theres nothing but rubble and twisted metal and over turned cars. You can see in the photo above what looks like a Ford Explorer is totally smashed.

Here is a picture of the same Ford Explorer and another Truck just like they were in a demolition derby.

 The Walgreens here has been completely gutted. As we drove by it you could see that there was nothing but collapsed trusses and bent metal inside.
This is a local lumber yard sign folded in half. The picture isn't real clear but the side you are seeing actually belonged on the other side. It just whipped around and bent. Unbelievable how strong this kind of thing is.
This car is down a street where every home was leveled. Imagine being in this kind of storm and how horrifying it would be to go thru it. Winds are said to have been 198 MPH and this picture proves that. A mid sized car tossed around and destroyed. I looked in the inside and the floor board was ripped up and setting half way on the seat.

This is the hospital where a ton of damage happened. If you look at the cars they are piled on top of each other. Just Unbelievable stuff.

As I was leaving this area I happened to look over and see this house. At least these people are ok. Man it's a hard thing to think about so many didn't get out.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Real Milk Paint

Since beginning to build furniture and mainly painted furniture, I have used a quite a few products to paint the pieces. I've done the latex paint with lacquer in between each coat, I've tried oil based paints and stain mixes but none have given me the quality and durability as Milk Paint. Milk Paint is a product used for thousands of years and is said to have been used by the Egyptians. It's a non-toxic and environmetally safe paint and as "Green" as you can get in the paint world.  I have used a few different brands of Milk Paint but one has really taken the top of the cake for me. Real Milk Paint brand is in my opinion, the best out there. It's tough as nails and really has an endless aray of colors (if you mix them).  I've tried it on an outdoor gate at my house and after a year outside in the elements I can't see any sign of chalkiness or streaking. I've used it on Windsor Chair for the last 2 years straight and had no issues whatsoever. The Real Milk Paint Co. has terrific customer service and are very helpful if you need info on a certain product  This is the stuff you want to use if you want a durable long lasting paint on just about any project. For more info on it go to

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Upholstered Frame work

Here is how I make the frames for my upholstered chairs. It's mortised and tenoned at the critical joints, the seat and arm rails to the legs and the crest rail to the back legs, these joints take the most abuse so I think they need added strength, but I also use pocket screws to lock in the wings and pull thru areas ( the areas not taking such a beating over time). I have tested the strength of this method and have been very convinced it will hold up for more years than I will be around. I paint the legs with Milk Paint before the chair gets any fabric. If anyone is looking to make an upholstered chair there's alot of things an upholster needs for him to cover the piece. Once I finally figured out how to make everything for this chair (which by the way, was off of a photo with the chair covered in fabric, not easy to do), I made my patterns and came up with what I thought was a pretty good proportioned looking chair. Of course when it's covered, the cotton batting and all the fluff makes it seem a bit smaller but you still have plenty of room and I do have to say these chairs are extremely comfy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Early American Life Magazine 2011

I recently found out I was chosen for the 2011 Top 200 Directory of American Craftsmen by Early American Life Magazine. I was chosen in 2010 for Windsor Chairs alone and this year, in the Painted and Formal Furniture as well as Windsor Chair categories again. I am also going to have my Thomas Jefferson Swivel Windsor shown in the Directory issue in August. I am so excited about that, the fine folks at EAL were kind enough to ask me and I couldn't be happier. The Directory is in it's 26th year and it is a honor to be accepted. Out of the no telling how many people they have send in work, only 200 get chosen and that's not only furniture, that includes Basket Makers, Needle Work, Pottery, Paintings, just to name a few. You can check out more by going to be sure to look for a copy on newsstands in August and support local artisans in your area.

Fan Back Chairs

Here is the finished chairs for an order going to a house on the island of Nantucket. The order also includes the "Titanic" settee, an 8 foot long Sack Back Settee that came out perfect in my opinion. I had a nice day finally after all the rain we have gotten to take these outside and set them in the nice green grass and get some photos taken. I think the green background makes them look really good and the light from the sun shows off better than a flash can do.

This is one of the two Nantucket Fan Back arm chairs for the order. All this is pretty faithful to the old ones except I use my own turning style (based off of Curtis Buchanan's and Peter Galbert's styles) and the rake and splay of the leg angles are of my own interpreting. I've never had any training or taken a class to learn how to make chairs or anything for that matter, I just kind of went for it and I do have to say that after 10-11 years of making furniture I've still got some things I'd like to improve. 

Building the side chairs for this order was actually the easiest part of it. I had 8 of these to make and they just all came out within an 1/8" other each other, but even so, side chairs are easier to make because you have fewer parts to make and paint.  I have been asked what is the hardest thing about building furniture and my answer is always, the paint, stain and finish. One persons idea of wear is different from anothers almost every time. Some people like a paint finish with no wear at all, some want more wear than I like to do. Theres a line you have to tip toe around with that, because in all honesty the finish is the most important aspect of a piece. You can build the most beautiful piece of furniture and put a bad finish on it and it can ruin it, however you put a great finish on a bad piece and it will make the piece into something spectacular. The hard part is doing both on the same piece. Once you can achieve that you've got something special.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mortise and Tenon Router jig

To make the many angled mortise and tenon joints for my upholetered furniture, I made this jig used with a plunge router. It can bevel to any angle up to about 10 degrees and even make a compound mortise if need be. I didn't want tospend the money to buy a Leight FMT jig $500 so I made one based off of it with scraps laying around the shop and a few toggle clamps. I made if for maybe $50. I can make a template to do a tenon in the end of the piece, however, I think a loose tenon is easier and so I have never got around to make the new template.

                          It's a pretty crude looking jig but it works great and is pretty simple to set up.
 This shows the cross hairs that you use to set up the mortise position. I mark a center line on the work piece where I want the mortise and move the cross hairs to to line up with that. Set my length of the mortise with a couple of stop blocks and rout the depth I need. Works really good for those difficult to make angled mortise and tenons.
The tenon shown here is just a piece ripped on the tables saw and then planed to thickness, in this case 3/8".
Without any glue this make for a strong joint that will hold these pieces of furniture together. Once the glue is put in it will be here long after I'm gone.