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Furniture Society Day 1

Preface: My laptop does not have a card reader…so no pictures until Monday, but I promise they will be good.  Ok, on with the show.

Sitting in a coffee shop eating gelato…yum.  Thinking about the first day of the conference and what I learned and observed.  There were 21 workshops today and going to pick the 3 that I was going to attend was tough.  So I decided that one on joinery, one on finishing, and one on design would be a good balance for the day.

The show opened with the normal blah blah blah welcome to the show kinda stuff and then Ray Magliozzi of NPR’s Car Talk (not sure if he is Click or Clack…)gave the opening address, a good story teller and a funny guy!  After the intro it was off to the seminars.

The first session was Compound Angle Joinery by Steve Brown, an Instructor at the North Bennett Street School.  He took a very complex process and broke it down to basics.  Did he make it easier? Yes he did.  Did he make it easy?  Well I am not sure if “easy” is the word, but definitely less frightening.  I hope to share more when I can load the photos, but the key seems to be: Ignore the angles, make a set-up block, and get busy cutting, using the set up block as a guide.  It is kind of like hand-cutting dovetails, it is really not that hard, but you gotta try it to do it, so next week…I am trying it!

Next up was Greg Johnson on “High Polish Finishes”.  Greg has a class coming up at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking later this summer, Aug 3-Sep 4. ( I have a class at Marc Adams School as well, August 16th-20 and 21-22.) I was expecting some practical  tips, and it was “practical” in the sense that we often abuse good woodworking with junk finishes just to get them done.  But to take time and create something special takes real work.  He talked about the easy steps to get there, but there were 17 coats of finish!  Now you would think with 17 coats the finish would be 1/2″ thick, but it was not!  It was very thin, it looked like it was as thin as paper, but the depth of the shine was truly exceptional.  It was Steinway-Piano smooth!  You will see in the photo you can see a reflection of the buffer in the finish while he was doing a final polish.  Is this the finish I would put on a toy box in my son’s bedroom? NOPE! But it was a finish that would be perfect for a decoratively veneered table.  He has a lot of information to teach.  If you want to step up your finishing, give him a visit at Marc’s school.

The final session was by Mark Del Guidice,  a very creative furniture maker/designer. Mark reminded me of the basic tools I have not been using enough as a furniture maker and designer. THANKS, MARK!  My favorite tool: Ask “What If?” “What if” there were three legs instead of four? “What if” there was a curve instead of a straight line? “What if” there were different species of wood? “What if” there was… you get the point. Throw out conventional thought, and do it different.

Well that melted my brain for the day.  Look for more stuff tomorrow and pictures next week. And remember, just like that gellato was a sensory overload of flavor, let the furniture you make be a sensory overload of your brain and challenge yourself to do more.

Thanks, and be safe in the shop!

Jeff Mertz

Design Editor


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