Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cabinet design (3)...

The evolution of the cabinet on stand continues, or should I say the devolution. In consultation with the client, the radical front with exposed drawers was a bit much. After even scaling back to a single drawer it was decided to not have any exposed drawers. I will instead embellish the door panels with some decorative treatment, an inlaid design. I will probably make a piece such as I had preciously drawn at some point in the future for purposes of speculation. In the meantime, I have almost finalized the drawing for this current cabinet on stand. As mentioned previously, the stance of this cabinet will have a lower, wider profile and it is to be purely a showcase type cabinet. With this in mind, I will leave the configuration of any interior drawers until later and focus on the case of the cabinet at the moment. I'm kind of excited about this project in that the form of the cabinet I find very aesthetically pleasing and the uniformity of the woods comprising the cabinet itself is a change from my previous commission. I also have artistic freedom to an extent with this commission with respect to detail work, interior layout, and the stand for the cabinet.

The European Quartersawn Beech I intend to use is a very fine wood, tight-grained and very uniform in texture, color , and appearance. This allows me more flexibility with any inlay adornment on the front of the doors later, a little like a having blank canvas to work with. Over the next few days I will begin to rough cut the wood to be used in the cabinet carcase or case. I do this in stages, allowing the wood to both acclimatize to my studio and to provide it enough time to release any internal tensions which have been exposed through cutting and dimensioning of the wood.

Next I will finalize the dimensions and exact measurements of the case and begin to prepare a cut list from which I can determine how best to dimension and prepare the wood I will be using. The case will be solid wood, the doors veneered with the same wood, and the back I intend to have a frame and panel.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Creativity runs rampant...

I need to make a confession. The genuinely creative person in my household is my wife. Okay, I'm kidding, we're both artistically inclined it seems. My wife began making bead type jewelry a year or so ago, and has since progressed into mixed media type jewelry, namely wood inlaid with metal. Her preferred wood is cocobolo with silver inlay. Cocobolo is a fantastic wood for this application since it polishes well, is very tight-grained, and has beautiful colored streaks giving it character. Linda began with small square inlay and has since delved into irregular shapes such as diamonds, curved inlay, and multi-sided inlay. I mentioned to her I would post a photo of her work on this blog since her work does originate from here, not quite from my studio, but nonetheless. Linda also trained for a short while with a leading goldsmith in the area and has developed a excellent background on working with metal and forming metal, of course, the education never ends.

Linda's jewelry making has opened up new experiences for us, we often shop for wood together, visiting local dealers in the quest for the ideal pieces of wood. I've spent some time with her on a couple of the pieces, critiquing her work. This went surprisingly well in spite of what we thought would occur. She is appreciating how important a virtue patience is, and how important it is to spend the extra time to get things just right. The designs are all hers, I just rough cut the pieces of wood and she trims them, creates a recess for the inlay and applies the inlay. The shaping, finishing and polishing are her domain, I usually just see the finished pieces. The jewelry stand was created by Linda's father, another fine craftsman.

Linda is currently experimenting with other woods such as blackwood and is also developing some new designs. She keeps challenging herself with more interesting designs, working her creative side and very much enjoying this. Back to the regularly scheduled programming, I continue to refine the cabinet on stand design and should have a final design with mock-up ready soon.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cabinet design (2)...

I'm on track with my next commission and am currently in the process of designing it as I mentioned in the last post. The client has given me free reign over the design with only some dimensions to follow, namely the height and width. This will be a cabinet on stand and somewhat different than the previous jewelry armoire. The proportions are based on more of a showcase , with a wider stance and lower height. The client specified a few drawers in the design, but the location of the drawers within the cabinet is not important, sufficient space for art objects, etc... is important however. The color of the cabinet is intended to be of a light color with darker, contrasting detail. The stand for the cabinet will also be in a darker wood. Since I can design as I please, I thought I would give myself a challenge in the process. I have the design of the cabinet front incorporating a large drawer opening with four drawers.

Blending the front door panels with drawer fronts becomes a challenge in that I intend to have a seamless transition from door panel to drawer fronts with minimal reveal between them. The drawer fronts themselves will have a lower lip which hides the drawer divider between each of the drawers. My intention is to have nothing but four drawer pulls, the two door pulls and some detail elements on the front or facade of this cabinet. The location of the door pulls has not been finalized and I am also considering mounting them in the upper center of the doors. This is all secondary to the design at this point.

Unlike the previous jewelry armoire, this cabinet will have full panel doors, most likely veneered doors. I do have available some light colored solid beech which is almost quarter-sawn, bordering on rift-sawn. The expansion coefficient for European beech is 5.5 when quarter-sawn, and this will definitely be a factor in my decision whether to use either solid wood panels or veneered panels. I also need to consider that the two cabinet doors expand and shrink individually, therefore this 5.5% rate increases the movement to 1.3 inches from .6 inches in absolute terms for a 24 inch expanse of panels. At this point I'm focusing on the design however, and in the next few days will have a better idea on how I will proceed. My next step is to formalize some drawings and present them to the client for approval. I'll also mock up the cabinet front for a better idea of the proportions and scale of the unit, once I have an approved design in hand.

The stand itself will either be integral with the cabinet or detached and give the semblance that the cabinet is floating on the stand. Putting a design on paper is an excellent exercise, it allows one to visualize how the components of a piece of furniture blend in together. This is one of the first steps in creating a piece of furniture after some preliminary sketching