What I Bring to the Table – Part 1 – Well Begun is Half Done

I finally started my table. Doug had me start by taking my scale drawing home and making an actual size drawing of it on a large piece of paper. When I got home I realized I didn’t have any proper equipment for drawing so I improvised. I had a sewing measuring tape, a 12in ruler and a piece of paper with a 90-degree angle. It took longer and was a little more difficult to do than if I had the proper equipment but I got the job done. The point of that exercise was to see how the proportions looked in the actual size. Doug and I both agreed that the legs looked long and would either need to be shortened or have a cross bar or shelf added.

The next step was to pick out the type of wood I wanted to make my table out of. Doug showed me the different kinds of wood he had available that I could use and I chose maple.

Doug then grabbed me a few pieces of paper and had me make an exact cut list using the lengths and widths from my design. With that I made an actual cut list by adding on a little extra to the lengths and widths. Then I sorted through his large stash of maple to pick out boards I could use based on that cut list.

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Cut List

After I had all the boards picked out Doug taught me how to calculate the approximate board footage. One board foot is equal to 1ft x 1ft x 1in. The process of calculating it took me far to long to do. It was pretty embarrassing how ridiculously slow and poor my math skills were. Doug kept trying to make me feel better by saying it’s just not something I’ve done before and the more I do it the faster I’ll get but really, this was some pretty basic math and I had a total brain fart. All he had me do was take the length and width of the boards and figure out approximately how many square feet each one was, I was even able to round to make it easier. Then multiply that by the thickness of the board. My brain just didn’t want to work that day and it took me 30 minutes to figure it all out.

Doug and I discussed the importance of being able to calculate the approximate board footage of something. He says he uses on occasion to figure out how much wood to order or how much wood will cost. It may not be used on a daily basis but it is definitely worthwhile to know. There are phone apps that can calculate it but it’s important to know how to do it without relying on technology. There are many methods for calculating this but Doug’s way is a rough estimate that will get you in the ballpark quickly… if you get used to it and don’t have a brain fart like I did.

Once all that was done it was time to s4s (surface 4 sides). This means getting all four sides smooth, straight, and square.  This was accomplished by using a jointer, a planer, a table saw, and a chop saw.

Doug told me not to put the boards for the table legs through the planer because the grain was all over the place but I forgot and ran it through accidentally. This was a big mistake. The ends of the boards chipped off in huge chunks. Another mistake I made was that I had already cut them to length; I should have waited and that way I would have given myself room for mistakes like this. The only way to fix it was to cut the ends off. This actually worked out for the better in the long run because we did think they were long and looked funny. By cutting them it made the proportions better. But next time I know better… I hope.

I made another mistake that day. For my tabletop I was going to need to cut one long board into four separate pieces that would then be glued together to make one big 18in x 18in piece. I wanted all four pieces to be the same size. I measured the width of the board and calculated how much I would need to cut off of each. Doug told me to only cut two to size and leave the other two for the outside pieces so I could put clamps on then to glue up without worrying about denting them, then cut it later. But again I forgot. I cut three before Doug realized and scolded me. Again, it was not a catastrophic mistake; it just meant I would have to put an extra piece of wood on one side to protect my tabletop from the clamps. It just adds an extra step to a time sensitive task.

I know there’s a saying, “Well begun is half done”. In this case, I didn’t have all that great of a beginning, but hopefully it will pick up and get better. Keep reading to find out.

Always a Beginner

One month down one to go. This last week was the start of the second month of my internship with Doug. So far I’ve had a blast and learned a ton. Although, I have to say, being a novice is really hard at times. I have made so many mistakes, I move at the pace of a snail, I ask too many questions, and I feel totally clueless and unsure about everything most of the time. There are some days where everything I do I mess up. I just have to continue to remind myself that this is where I am starting from and it takes time to get good at anything. It’s nice to remind myself that all I can do is take life one day at a time and one step at a time which is much more conducive to enjoying the journey and staying optimistic and hopeful. This is true for all areas of my life.

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Adding inner boarders to trivets

Last week I had a really fun time helping Doug a lot with his projects. I made outer boarders for table runners putting dado grooves into them – it went a lot better this time. Then I put the boarders on the table runners. I also got to put inner boarders on trivets. The trivets were fun because I got to work a bit with the spalted wood and it became more about design; I got to pick out the best parts of the spalted wood and match them up around the trivets. I also got to know the chop saw better and started to figure out where to place the blade to get a closer more accurate cut. Doug always suggests cutting it on the big side to start and pruning it down over a few cuts to be on the safe side. After a while I started to see where the sweet spot was where it would either by right on or just barely big and could hit it more often.

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A stack of “canvases” (Trivets with outer and inner boarders) for Doug

Working so close to Doug on the same projects he’s working on has made me really in awe of him. He is so enthusiastic about his work and gets so excited over it, almost giddy. He is an artist right down to the core when it comes to the work he’s doing now. When you look at his work it’s so amazing and beautiful but you would never guess how much he puts into it. You can’t even begin to imagine unless you get to know him in his work setting. He wakes up really early and starts working, he’s a machine and works straight through with no break other than lunch, and he’s still working when I go home. I know he says he gets tired but you really could never tell.

Lately, Doug has been really pushing me to be more independent and to figure out more things on my own. This has led to a lot of mistakes. However, as nice as it is to do things perfect the first time, you really do learn a lot more from mistakes. People always say this and, as I’m discovering, it holds a lot of truth. It’s really hard on my immediate self-confidence and pride but in the long run it’s truly a blessing. Just by making one mistake I get to learn what not to do, how to fix my mistake, and how I can do it better the next time. That’s a pretty good ROI if you ask me.

Lot’s of ups and downs, lots of hard work, and lots of learning happening. I’m grateful for all that and looking forward to more.

“You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.” – Barbara Sher

From Start to Finish – Part 2

Over the past couple weeks I have been working on and off towards finishing the trays. A lot has been done since my part 1 post.

After we had all the sides cut to length and the miters made, the next step was to decide what type of handles the trays would have. Doug wanted some of his to have routed handles and some with cherry handles. I decided I would do the same.

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Doug’s routed tray handles

We set up the router and Doug showed me how to make the handles. Instead of having my handles go only half way through the board I wanted them to go all the way through. Doug said that was usually done another way but since we had the router set up we could figure out how to make it happen with the router. Doug set up two boards on either side of the router spaced just wide enough for the tray side to fit. This would keep me safe and keep my board straight giving it a nice even cut. Doug tried it first to see how it would work. Then I did a few practice runs before starting on the real pieces. It worked!

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Hand routing the inside of my handles

After that I used a handheld router to round the inside of my handles and then sanded them smooth.

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Drilling holes to screw on the tray handles

Doug then designed the shape of the cherry handles and figured out their dimensions. With that information, I marked on the boards where to drill holes that would be used to screw the handles on. Then I used the drill press to drill the holes. I also used the drill press with a plug cutter bit to make plugs that would cover the screw and fill the hole.

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Making wood plugs

Once the holes were finished it was time to put finish on the inside of the boards. The outside will get finished later. I really enjoyed this process. It was calming for me and all my attention was on what I was doing. I found that if I held the board up to the light while I as putting the finish on I could see the spots that I missed easily. This allowed me to get nice, even coats.

About halfway through putting on the second coat I went to move the can to a closer spot and it slipped right out of my hand. It landed upside down and half of what was in the can spilled out and rapidly spread into a good sized pool. I walked over to Doug with a very ashamed look and told him. He acted quickly. He grabbed some rags and sawdust. I wiped up as much as I could then Doug sprinkled sawdust around to soak up the rest. I wiped that up and we repeated the process. We got it cleaned up to the point that you could barely see where it spilled. I felt so bad and Doug told me a story to make me feel better of a time he spilled a gallon of finish. It made me feel a bit better but I took down the info of what kind of what type of finish it was and surprised him a few days later with a new can of finish.

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Trays glued up using block and string method

When the finish was dry I finally got to glue the trays together. I did a few practice ones before making the three trays requested by Doug’s former customer. First I would put glue in dado joint then on the mitered edges then fit the pieces around the plywood panel making sure that the joints were tight and the inside of the corners lined up. Then I used a block and string method to hold the joints together and apply pressure while drying. I found that doing a dry run before gluing up avoided much difficulty. Every time I would skip the dry run and go right to gluing the pieces would never fit together and I would have to frantically try to manhandle (or should I say womanhandle) and hammer them together before the glue set. Once they were together I would lay the trays on a flat surface to make sure they didn’t rock at all.

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Angled table saw blade

The next step was to make the cherry handles. Doug showed me where his cherry wood stash was located and we picked out the boards we would use. Then we ripped it on the table saw to get it the right width. Doug designed the handles to be tapered inward on all four sides. That could be accomplished for the long sides on the table saw. I never knew this but apparently the blade can be rotated in to cut at an angle. Doug explained how this maneuver could be unsafe and what I could do to stay safe. We started with the blade relatively upright and moved it in gradually until the amount of taper was just right.

After that, the outer edge of the board was rounded with a router. Then we moved to the chop saw to cut the remaining handles to the right length at a slight angle. To get a straight downward cut, because the board is tapered, Doug stacked a few pieces of veneer to prop up the low end.

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Cherry handles cut to size

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Doug’s finished cherry handles

Once the handles were cut to size it was time to sand them. I saw that Doug used the belt sander to sand off the sharp corners and round the side edges of the handles but must have missed what he did after that. I looked at the handles he had finished and went to the belt sander to finish the rest. I tried so hard to make mine look like his but I couldn’t. I tried and I tried but it just didn’t look as smooth and perfect as his. Finally I gave Doug a look of desperation and he came over with a kind of “did you really mess this up” expression on his face. I told him that I was using the belt sander and I just couldn’t get mine to look as good and smooth as his. He laughed and told me he got the handle to that point through a series of three stages. First he used to belt sander to get the basic shape then the orbital sander to smooth it out and round it further, and finally he hand sanded it a little to top it off. Ah ha! That’s how he got it so nice. I felt much more confident about my ability after that.

I quickly finished the rest of the handles on belt sander then moved on to the orbital sander. Doug told me it was a little awkward at first but he had gotten used to sanding rounded edges with the orbital sander so I gave it a try. It took a short bit to get used to but it wasn’t bad. My hand got tired pretty fast so I switched hands and kept going. Woodworking is helping me become ambidextrous; sometimes I need to use my non-dominant hand to do things and now it’s becoming more coordinated. However, it’s interesting that the technique I use is different for each hand. What works for one doesn’t work for the other, they each have a mind of their own (or a different brain hemisphere).I got the handles as close to done as I could with the orbital sander then set them aside to be hand sanded at a later time.

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Doug showing me hot to make a slip feather joint

Next, Doug taught me how to make a slip feather joint. This is done by cutting a kerf into a miter joint and gluing a piece of wood into it. This adds extra strength to the joint. Guess which tool we used for this? Yep, the table saw; this is an amazing multipurpose tool. There is a special jig that a piece (in this case a tray) clamps into at a 45 degree angle. It fits into a track on the table saw so all a person needs to do it push it slowly forward and pull it back. I made two cuts on each corner; one near the top of the tray and one near the bottom of the tray. Then I glued the slip feathers that Doug made into the kerf cut.

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Kerf cut for slip feathers

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Making slip feather joints on the corners of the trays

When they were dry I used the band saw to cut the excess off. The goal is to get as close to the edge of the tray as possible without cutting into the tray. I tried my very best but my cuts were either far from the edge or I would accidentally cut into the tray. Neither was a big deal it just means I would need to sand more.

The last step I completed on the trays was to sand all the outside edges flat and smooth. Making sure the feathers were completely smooth and didn’t stick out.

I still haven’t finished the trays yet; there is just so much other stuff to do in the shop for Doug. I need to finish hand sanding the handles, put them on the trays, and put the finish on.

Stay tuned for more of my adventures in helping Doug, building a table, and finishing the trays.

A Week of Many Projects

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Helping Doug and his wife Sandy create a display for their booth

Last week was a bit shorter than usual. Over the weekend Doug had attended an artisan craft fair where he sold his work at a booth. He asked me to come help him at the booth because he thought his wife had to be somewhere else. It turned out that she was able to stay so there wasn’t much need for me. I stood with them at the booth for a short while anyway. Unfortunately no sales took place during the time I was there; I was really looking forward to seeing a transaction happen. Doug put a lot of work into the fair by preparing the items and spending the entire weekend selling them. He did really well overall and got second place for his beautiful display. So he decided to take Monday off to rest, which meant I got Monday off too. Well, sort of…

For my day off, Doug gave me the task of designing a small table that I will be building. I had an idea of what I wanted the table to look like so I started playing around with sketches. I designed a nightstand.

The next day I brought my design in to show Doug. He gave me a few ideas and standards that would make my table better proportioned and stable. He then showed me how to make a scale drawing with an architects ruler then had me make a scale drawing of my table for homework.

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Scale Drawing of nightstand

I worked on a lot of different projects over the week. I worked a bit more on the trays, I helped build some quick cabinets for Doug to transport and display some of his products, I changed the table saw blade to a dado blade, and I milled the boarders for table runners.

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Quick cabinet for storage and display of products

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Changing the table saw blade

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Putting on a dado blade

The dado grooves I made for the table runner boarders this time didn’t work out so well. I had made them before, the same exact things made the same exact way but this time something really wasn’t working out. The board was lifting up and not cutting as deep as it needed to be and was just awful. Doug thought it might be his blade becoming dull so he decided to give it a try himself. It worked perfectly. So the conclusion was it was something I was doing wrong. However, from watching Doug do it I realized that he was putting pressure on the board right above the blade and he had me keep my hand at a distance. I pointed this out and he said it was better for me to be on the safe side. Doug is an very experienced woodworker and therefore the line between safe and unsafe is quite different from where mine is as a beginner.  This just means I need to find alternative ways to get the job done well and yet maintain that level of safety. I got the done, not the best job but they’ll do. Next time I’ll just have to play around with the process and find something that works for me. I’m still baffled as to how I managed to make them the first time without messing up though.

I did a lot of odd jobs this week but it is always a learning experience especially because I’m starting from the beginning. I have very little experience with woodworking and tools and most of the experience I have is recent so every bit I do is important. No matter how big or small, simple or complicated, brief or repetitive the task, it is training my muscles and my mind for this kind of work.

From Start to Finish – Part 1

Doug had gotten a request from a previous customer to make some wooden trays. She had purchased some from him a while back and loved them so much she wanted a few more. Doug decided this would be a great start to finish project for me that I would be in charge of and work on by myself. In doing so I would get to make a few extra for myself to keep or give away as gifts. Doug would also have me make extra that he would be selling. We decided on 12 trays in total. The trays will have poplar edges and a plywood panel bottom.

We figured out the dimensions of the trays based on what the customer requested. Then we went on a hunt through Doug’s shop for the materials. Doug liked poplar wood for the trays so we sorted through his large stash. Doug would take out his measuring tape and rapidly spout out numbers easily breaking down the sizes in his head and figuring out how many tray sides we could get out of one board. It was far too fast for me to follow along. He had to stop and break it down slowly for me. I got it just not as fast as he does; he has had many years of practicing. He then went on to explain how important it is to learn how to figure out what you want, what available material you have, and how to make it work.

Once we had all the dimensions figured out and the poplar ready Doug had me set up the table saw and cut all the edges. When setting up the table saw you need to set the width (which is measured from the outside of the blade to the fence) and the blade height to make sure the blade isn’t set too high (which can be dangerous) or too low. The table saw is a serious tool and needs to be respected and used safely. Doug is very adamant about safety and I really appreciate it. If the space between the blade and fence is less than 6” a push stick is to be used. When I am running a board through the table saw I am to be focusing on where my hands are and where they are putting pressure in case they slip; where are they going to go? I also need to focus on the board, make sure it is flush against the fence and flat on the table otherwise I won’t get a straight cut. It takes a bit to get used to and sometimes it was a bit tricky because some of the boards weren’t straight so I couldn’t get them flush against the fence. I did my best though. It also took a bit to get used to where to place my hands and fingers to get the right pressure to keep the board in line, I got little nicks and shallow cuts on my fingers from the sharp corners of the boards rubbing against them.

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Poplar boards cut on table saw for trays

After all the boards were cut to the right width it was time to sand them all smooth. It was so much sanding! It took me an entire morning plus half of an afternoon to sand all the boards. My shoulders and neck were cramping and I had to take several breaks to get feeling back into my arms that would go numb from the vibration of the orbital sander. This was not my favorite part of the process.

Eventually I finished sanding and got to move on to making dado grooves that the plywood panel will fit into. I used the table saw again for this. I am getting tons of good practice and added a few more small cuts on my fingers as well as a nice blister on my pointer finger. To make the dado I made three passes over the normal blade moving the fence just slightly over each time until the desired width of the dado was reached and the 1/4 “ plywood fit nicely.

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Dado grooves

The next step was to round the edges with a router. Doug liked the idea of having all four edges rounded. He showed me how to set up and use the router and jig. He clamped a board down that was centered on the router that would act as a fence to keep my work straight and even and provide some safety. He had me use a push stick for this as well to be extra cautious.

I started out thinking this is pretty easy but soon found it to be strenuous. My body has a way to go before it adapts to the specific ways I need to use it. My hands started cramping badly, like a charley horse, especially the big muscle under my thumb. I needed to put quite a bit of pressure on the board to keep it against the fence so my edge would turn out nice. I must have tried half a dozen different ways of holding my hands, and none of them were comfortable for very long; they all made my hand sore. I suffered through it, kept going, and finished!

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Routered edges

The next morning I hand sanded every board to get any marks the router made. At first this task wasn’t so bad but after a while I was tensing up. I finally discovered that if I relaxed my muscles while I did this it was a lot less strenuous. This meant playing around with different ways of holding the board and sandpaper. I find that with everything I do in woodworking I need to have a firm grip on things yet keep as many muscles relaxed as possible. I also need to make sure I am in a comfortable position otherwise things get uncomfortable real fast. After mentioning to Doug that I was sore from tensing my muscles he said, “Welcome to woodworking!” By this he meant woodworking is a physical job and it takes the body a while to get used to it. I know as I continue I will find comfortable ways to hold tools and position my body, and the specific muscles used for these tasks will get stronger and have more endurance.

That afternoon Doug had me sort the boards into groups of four that would make up the four sides of the tray. He said this was where the design element came in. I got to go through all the boards and pick which ones went together best. I spent a long time deciding which pieces to put together. After a while Doug came over and told me I was probably over thinking it. I probably was but I enjoyed it.

Once I had them grouped together to my satisfaction I started cutting the miter joints on the chop saw. Doug had me make a miter cut on one side of every board first then go back and make the cut on the other side. He showed me how to set up a stopper by clamping a board down a certain distance away from the chop saw that I can push one end of the board against. This makes sure all the boards are cut to the same length. It’s a bit of a process to set it up and it takes a little time but if a lot of boards all need to be cut to the same length this can be very time saving and accurate.

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Using a stopper to cut miter joints

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Miter cuts

On Friday I finished the miter cuts and chose which sets of four I liked the most for my own boxes. Doug chose which ones would be made for the client. The left over ones would be for Doug to sell.  We also decided on what types of handles the boxes would get. Some of them will have routered handles, some of them will have cherry wood handles, and some will have no handles.

I am really enjoying having a start to finish project to work on. The first week I was just plugged into whatever Doug was working on. It was fun in it’s own way but I think having a project to work on is best for learning. I still need to design a small table that I will build for myself; I’m really excited for that!

I didn’t get to finish the trays last week so stay tuned for part 2!

Working with Doug

Monday I started a new, two month long internship with Doug Adams, owner of the Spalted Wood Gallery. I took a class with him at MUM and absolutely loved it. I learned so much in his class and knew I wanted to learn more from him. He is a high-energy, humorous, honest, and kindhearted man who is incredibly conscientious about safety. He is meticulous and efficient. He used to specialize in custom furniture and cabinetry but more recently has migrated into gift items such as trivets, salt and pepper shakers, napkin holders, lazy susans, utensils, etc. as well as mosaic art work. Doug’s work is stunning and he has a wonderful and unique style that incorporates beautiful spalted and exotic woods.

My internship will be split into two categories: the first category is production; I will be learning and helping Doug produce the items he sells, the second category is my own projects; I will be choosing and designing my own projects that will teach and refine a variety of techniques and skills.

The first day at Doug’s was sort of an orientation day; He showed me around his large, two-story shop he recently built next to his house out in the country. He showed me his work and all the different projects he was working on. We spent a little bit of time getting his shop organized, tidied up, and ready for me to work in. Doug went over the different tools and safety rules for all of them. We also talked about the goals and expectations each of us had for the internship and what the structure of it would look like. We came to consensus of a few days a week Doug would teach me techniques on my own projects and the rest of the week I would work on production for him. This gives a nice balance for both of us to get something of value out of this experience.

Doug had invited my family and me over for lunch on the first day and his wife, Sandy, made a wonderful meal. So, after an information-filled morning, my husband and son came out to their house to eat and enjoy. It was a wonderful chance for us to get to know each other better. Doug and his wife are so incredibly kind and this gesture just shows how warm and open they are.

The rest of the week was packed. I got to use the chop saw and table saw a lot which made me progressively more comfortable using them. With the table saw I got to cut both very large things, like a sheet of plywood, and very small things, like small borders for books and lazy susans. I also used the table saw to cut rabbet and dado joints. The wide variety of sizes and shapes I got to cut was valuable for both confidence and skill. With the chop saw I cut 90, 45, and 22.5 degree angles for boarders on lazy susans and table runners. I needed to be very accurate with my measurements and cuts so I got a lot of practice at being very precise with the chop saw. Every time I would use a tool Doug would stress safety and show me how it can be dangerous and what I can do to stay safe. Always safety first. I learned how to mark certain pieces certain ways to make sure my cut was in the right place and the pieces would fit together properly. I also learned a few techniques for gluing these pieces together.

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I got to learn all this and more though helping Doug make his products. I had a lot of fun and am looking forward to next week. Even though I haven’t started any of my own projects I am already learning so many valuable things. I’m getting so much more comfortable in my ability and equipped with the right knowledge and skills. I am one step closer to feeling like I’ll be able to do this on my own some day.

Ittekimasu

Last week was a bit different than usual. Because I had finished my box and only had one week left with Duncan it didn’t make sense to start a new project. Instead, he had me help him with the project he was working on, a tiny house for a client.

On Monday I helped Duncan make a prototype windowsill. We prepped the boards and cut them to size. Then Duncan gave me the task of hand planing them. When I was finished we used a dado blade on the table saw to take out a portion in the center of the back of the board. This is done so the board has the flexibility to twist, if needed, to fit flush against the wall. This is especially important for a tiny house built on a trailer on uneven ground with nothing to square to.

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Windowsill Prototype

Next we went out to the tiny house to nail the boards around the window. There were a few spots Duncan needed to hand plane the wood down to get the boards to fit flush against the wall and the trim. Then he nailed them up. They looked very nice to me but the final judgment had to come from the client.

He gave it the a-okay so Tuesday I spent the day hand planing the rest of the boards. There was a huge stack that Duncan had already cut. I started by sharpening my plane blade. It went pretty well but I had to spend extra time on the polishing stone trying to get one very stubborn spot. Finally I had success and moved on to planing.

I was working away at my slow pace when Duncan came to join me for a bit. He moved so fast! So fast, so precise, and so fluid. I was a snail in comparison. I decided to try it closer to his speed. It didn’t work out so well. So I slowed it down a little, but still faster than I had been going, and found a nice rhythm.

After doing several boards I could tell it was time to sharpen the blade again. It was hard for me to look at the blade to tell but I could feel it and sense it when I ran the plane over a board. It just didn’t feel right, and the boards weren’t getting as smooth as they should be. So I sharpened the blade again. I guess sharpening the blade twice in one day was a bit much for my body. My neck got sore, my fingers on one hand got really stiff and were hyperextending, and my ring finger on the hand that was holding the blade went numb. Duncan told me take a break and said that even he has days where he needs to take a break in the middle of sharpening. So I took a few minutes to rest then got back down on my knees to finish up. It was painful but I pressed on and got the blade nice and sharp and beautifully polished. When I went back to planing Duncan complimented me by saying, “you got the blade really sharp, the boards are really shiny.” My hard work paid off. By the end of the day I was really starting to get the hang of planing. I still wasn’t as fast and fluid as Duncan but I definitely improved. However my finger stayed numb for a week. I guess I will need to experiment and find a different way of holding the blade while sharpening.

After sharpening a plane blade and setting it into the plane you always want to test it. This way you can make sure your taking off the right amount, not too little not too much. Setting the plane blade is troublesome for me; I either have the blade too far out or too far in. When I tap it to get it in or out I end up tapping it too little or too much. I have a hard time finding just the right spot. Or at least I think so; whenever Duncan comes to help he usually says it’s fine. Some day I’ll get it.

For the rest of the week Duncan gave me a task that I would work on and figure out on my own; I was to finish putting plywood on the top of the wall in the bathroom where the shower was going. He briefly explained what I needed to do and gave me a few tips on how to do it and what tools to use. Then he showed me where to find the plywood and set me loose. I got to use the chop saw, the table saw, the jigsaw, and the hand plane. It was fun being responsible for a project and figuring it out mostly on my own.

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Before the Plywood was Finished

The first piece I got in wasn’t perfect; it wasn’t that bad, it just wasn’t perfect. Duncan gave me a few tips on how to make the next ones better and I followed them. Each piece got a little more accurate and I got a little more comfortable. The last one however, was a bit trickier having added elements. I got it most of the way done before the end of the day.

Friday was my last day with Duncan for now; I will be doing another month long internship with him in December though. It was a very nice relaxed day. We talked for a bit at the beginning as we always do, then I finished up the last tiny bit of my small task. It was slow going shaving down a little bit here and a little bit there until finally it fit. Of course it wasn’t as good as Duncan’s but it was pretty darn close.

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After I finished the Plywood

Then I helped Duncan finish and hang the door for the bathroom. It is a simple sliding panel door made out of some of the excess tongue and groove flooring that was used for the loft. I got to use the jigsaw to cut the ends straight and help drill a hole for and screw in the rollers. Then we brought it into the house and hung it up. I think it will work well.

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Sliding Panel Door

When we were done Duncan invited me back to the shop to have tea. He made matcha green tea and set out two kinds of biscuits to go with it. Duncan likes matcha tea best because you get to drink the whole tea leaf which has added health benefits.

We sat and dipped our biscuits in the tea while having nice discussions about everything. Duncan was really nice to talk to and had so many great words of wisdom and insights to share. I am really grateful to have worked with him; not only did I learn a lot in the field of woodworking and fine furniture making but through our discussions I learned a lot about life. I am really looking forward furthering my knowledge of both things when I go back in December.

In Japanese they say, “Ittekimasu” (I’ll go and come back).

For the next two months I will be doing another woodworking/furniture making internship with a man named Doug Adams so stay tuned.