Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Charley's School Of Woodworking: Lesson #1-Straight Up Jigga

Google me this: What came first, the jig or the right angle?  You really need one to make the other and it had to start somewhere.  Find me a right angle in nature and I will send you a free t shirt. I don't care who you are.  They are out there but it took me a long time to find one.  You want a shirt? Show me the natural 90. It is the quintessential man made object.  It is what most separates us from nature.

First thing to do is build a jig.  I build jigs to build jigs. I have built mini jiglettes for jigs that I have made to make real jigs.  It's a good thing because if your jigs are tight, everything else falls into place.  And that is an especially good thing when you are routing in the dark.  It gets dark early in these parts, this time of year. Below is a picture of me routing this evening at the main or "upper" manufacturing facility.  I can only plug three things in at once.  Two routers and a radio.  Even though I can't hear the radio over the R rated scream of the router, it is comforting knowing some NPR bozo is yammering away somewhere. I don't need light, thanks to jigs.  I hardly need anything at all!

I set up the camera to give you a better idea of what it is really like.


2   [rout]  Show IPA–verb (used with object)1. to hollow out or furrow, as with a scoop, gouge, or machine

 The benches I am making in the dark, cold rain are going to be boss.  Honkin' dovetails, tight, tight grain, and a weighty girth.   A real bench's bench. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Coincidental Felt Soup

It was a year ago yesterday that Madeleine felted sick. It was also a year ago yesterday that I put a bowl of felt soup into the fridge while she went to get an emergency appendectomy. 

Look at this bowl of soup that my daughter made yesterday, exactly one year from the day she made the previous one.  Weird, right?  These are the only two bowls of felt soup she has ever made.  It was purely by chance.  I ate them both.

Instead of appendicitis, this year she had a loose tooth which she extracted in dramatic fashion.  After a full day of creative attempts, she finally had me tie a ball to a string and attached that to her tooth.  She threw it and boom.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Yeah! It's My Birthday!! T minus X

I might as well use a cartoon woodpecker as a drill.  Much to my beautiful wife's delight, the primary manufacturing facility is now covered in a giant blue tarp that has a large enough pool of water on it to raise a Beluga.  It does serve to waylay the indoor rains that were threatening to ruin all of my tools but really it's the menacing impermanence of the entire set up that is of deeper concern.  It is so friggin' tight in there, I am moving my hips like a hula dancer navigating my way to the screw gun. Dippin' and divin'.

But I'm a lucky guy!  I am making some more Skuk benches for my all time favorite furniture store in NYC, Regeneration. I am trying to build four of them out of my shemp shop.  Luckily I just threw away all my jigs about a month ago.  That means I can make new better ones! That is what I was doing today, in the rain. the wonderful rain.

The vintage was all consuming this year. It was both frenetic and fun as ever.  We smashed the winery record for the most grapes processed in a day.  Previous record was 76 tons and we hit 96!  All the grapes came at once.  A purple hailstorm.  It is like a five year old boy's dream job. Driving a forklift, dumping 1/2 ton bins of grapes in a hopper, squirting water all over the place, getting barefoot and digging out tanks, cleaning the press!

Cleaning the inside of the press is one of the craziest things.  You gotta try it.  Squeezing your weary shitass into the press cavity and muscling the huge rubber bladder around is not a normal task.  The deflated bladder is like a grape skin covered dead walrus smashing against your face.  Sometimes I couldn't tell if we were fighting or making love.

Here are a couple of undercover movies I took with my Cybershot: 

And there is always the thought that the tank might roll and bisect you or someone could knock the air on by mistake and turn you into a million tiny extrusions.


  [v. bahy-sekt, bahy-sekt; n. bahy-sekt]  Show IPA
–verb (used with object)
to cut or divide into two equal or nearly equal parts.

Tank Digout:

Good news, A to Z 2008 Pinot Noir just got a 90 point rating from the Wine Spectator which put them in the top 100 wines of '08! I helped make that!