Off Season Stuff
Pursuing new and different hobbies
There can be a lot of downtime during the off season. And after I spend time looking at maps, reading up on destinations, procuring permits, and planning out my guiding season. I need something to take my mind off of things and free up some much needed productive creativity. This off season I've decided to pursue something I've wanted to try for a long time, woodworking. My ultimate goal in this endeavor is to build my own canoe paddle. I have a couple of canoe paddles built by Fritz Orr III hanging on my wall alongside my RiverStyx kayak paddle built by Jim Snyder. It's gonna take quite a while before I have the skills to attempt something like this.
I have been in the Woodworking I class at the Arkansas Arts Center. It is a 10 week program that meets for 3 hours a week on Tuesday nights. The goal of this class is simple; to make a table. I chose cedar for my top and aprons and cypress for the legs. This table is meant for the front porch. I often enjoy just drinking coffee on the front porch in the mornings with my lady. Being made of cedar and cypress this table will fill a valuable need and be great for use outside.
After just a couple of sessions I was really getting the hang of the shop, the layout of the machines, where all the tools were and how to use most of them. Plus our instructor was top notch. He would spend a small amount of time demonstrating a technique or safe use of a machine and then create space and time for us to experiment on our own with his ever watchful floating support. I figured I could take on a couple of more projects during my time in this class so I did some modifications to the foam pillar in one of my kayaks to prepare for a self support mission I have coming up this winter.
After I messed around with the kayak side project I was able to get back to the main project and put the top on my table.
Having completed my initial goal and a bonus one, I still had a few sessions left in the class. I must say I was very happy with the ability to work at my own pace in this class and not feel like I needed to be doing any single thing at any specific time. I was able to just keep finding things to do. Next I jumped on the opportunity to make a cutting board. I chose alternating cuts of maple and cherry. After my first rip and glue I planed and ripped the board again to turn the grain facing up to make a really fine cutting board. They say end grain boards are known to be better for your knives and have the ability to 'heal' themselves due to the fibers being able to push back into themselves to hide cut marks. After a good sanding I was able to spill the first coat of mineral oil across the board. "It never gets old," said my instructor, and I can see why, it is so satisfying to watch the wood literally come to life with the first coat of oil. I later finished it with 4 more coats of coconut oil before using it for the first time.
There's a lot of time spent making cutting boards that is like waiting for glue to dry, well because that's literally what you're doing. So my final project I took on in the down times of my cutting board. I wanted to create a bench to put under the living room window to put plants on. It'd be nice to have a few house plants and I bet the dogs wouldn't chew up a single one of them. Anyway, I decided to go with cypress for this one as it may get wet from having plants on it, but I wanted to show off a little so I put a couple of strips of cherry down the middle.
After I glued up the big pieces I was able to cut down the top and legs as well as a stretcher to help hold the whole thing together. My thoughts were to hold the bench together with tendons and mortices, and that has proven to be somewhat of a challenge. That is where I am currently, trying to figure out how to not bugger up the project anymore then I already have. I've broken pieces and had to re-glue, chipped off pieces that were supposed to be on top, had tools kick back aggressively. I have to say that after all the momentum I was experiencing, this project has caused me to pause and think more, so I can salvage the remains and hopefully still have something for my plants.