Saturday, 20 March 2010

Trip to The Big Red Shed

So, this morning we were feeling a little better but still not 100% but decided to head out to The Big Red Shed anyway. I'm glad we went though as we had an absolute blast looking at all of the awesome timber on offer. Everything from a recycled decorative trim to old doors to slab stock, almost ANYTHING you can think of can be sourced here.

Initially we were met by a lady who seemed to run the place or at least she was in charge for the day and was kind enough to point us in the right direction of the sizes we were looking for. Being the person that I am I had lineal measurements of all the stock pieces we needed, it was just a matter of finding the right piece with the right colouring and texture to achieve the rustic look we are after.

A bit of looking around the sheds and kind of oohing and ahhing at the range a nice chap by the name of Paul came and offered his assistance. Paul is an absolute champion!!! Why? Basically we spent about two and a bit hours talking to him about the result we wanted and he offered so much advice on what woods to choose. So, rack by rack we went through the stock looking for the straightest pieces we could find. Paul was so awesome in that he cut everything to size for us and gave us extra pieces for free and then gave us a discount at the end. I've got to do a little bit of searching but I'm pretty sure a hardwood king size bed (one off design) in a shop would run into the thousands of dollars. At this point it looks like I'll be able to get away with a few nickels and dimes and no busted power tools (hey Steve, hahaha).

The headboard panelling will be made up using old hardwood flooring panels that we will hit with a steel brush and then with the grinder to roughen it up a little. The rest of the headboard will be made using 90x90 post material (more on this in a minute). The main bed framing has come from a hardwood that we don't know the name of, yet. Finally, the legs will be made out of the same 90x90 post material that the headboard is using. We still need to go get the slats and hardware to put it all together and on the advice of Paul we'll be making a trip to Bunnings in the near future. Their pine is FSC certified which is a step closer for me to using materials that are environmentally ethical throughout the entire supply chain. Like I've said in previous posts, this will be a long process of researching until I find a supplier(s) that meets all of the criteria I need. I especially like The Big Red Shed as I can source great woods and I'm recycling at the same time.

Anywho, the 90x90 posts are a little rare find that we only just managed to stumble upon. We were eyeing off some 100x100 dressed stock and noticed some really old looking 90x90 laying there. I asked Paul how much per linear meter while my wife asked "what kind of wood is that? where's it from?" - my wife always asks the best question and the ones I'd ordinarily forget to ask. Being the legend that Paul is he informed us that this material was from the old Southport Spit Sand Pumping Jetty. How awesome is that? A little piece of QLD history will become a permanent fixture in our home. At some point the Jetty underwent upgrades and the old railings were taken away and replaced. As a result we have a portion of these lovely little beauties in our home.

During the week after work I'll take a trip to Bunnings to get the rest of the hardware (which I'd hoped to use recycled but can't locate decent stock) and the slatting. I'll also begin preparing the wood by hitting it with the steel brush and then with the grinder.

Expect to see some progress posts on this one over the next month. For now though, here's some pics of our morning out at The Big Red Shed. ps. did I mention how awesome Paul was?

My wife strolling around the sheds on the phone
The view from one of the sheds. Pictures don't do it justice.
Yes it is big and red.
Our purchases. If you can help identify the species of wood that would be awesome. please leave a comment.
This is the 90x90 stock from the old Southport Spit Sand Pumping Jetty.

Friday, 19 March 2010

The King Bed - stage 1 : design and planning

What does one do when they are home sick from work and not really up to doing all that much? Why they design furniture items of course. I'd had plans in my head for a bed and had kind of put them down but today I managed to get two similar designs down. Both designs use the same base structure and construction technique yet a different in their final look.

In both designs the bed and storage are separate units so that either can be moved easily. The main reason for this is that it will allow me to build the bed out in stages. Starting first with the main frame and then building in the storage when time permits.

The main difference between the two beds are the height and the bed head. The first design has a higher set bed allowing for two rows of storage underneath. The height of this one reminds me of the beds that my grandma use to have, the kind that seemed impossible to get onto as a small child. The bed head also features a modern slatted design.

The second bed is 300mm closer to the floor and only features one row of storage underneath - but hopefully the kids (when we have them) won't have any trouble climbing on and waking us up. The bed head will have some very fancy electronics built into it. The frosted glass panel will be backlit and controlled through pressure sensitive switches recessed until the timber framing. The electronic controller behind it all will be the one that I've written recently and it features 56 different special effects. Yes I do realise that its overkill for a bed head but what the pressure sensitive switches will allow us to (but not limited to) change the effect sequence (including solid colours) and set the dimmer level. (this is the design we've chosen to build)

We still have a trip planned to The Big Red Shed tomorrow to get materials for the construction. Despite the sketches below showing a very clean, neat, perfectly and somewhat anally square design, I plan on using rough, recycled and raw materials. I'm thinking recycled sleepers, old doors, rough planks etc. The aim is to combine the old world feel with elements of modern influence without being disgustingly pretentious about it. A lot of modern furniture is boring and somewhat lacking in character and texture. This is something that I will be wanting to avoid at all costs with this.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

New Power Tool

Tonight I took a trip to Bunnings to get a new power tool. I've been looking for a compressor or airless spray gun for some time now to assist in the finishing of various projects. However, up until now I've had no real justification for making the purchase. Sure, I've got a professional spray gun, hoses and moisture control devices but these are useless without a decent compressor. Looking at the $400 starting point for a compressor that can give the right flow rates and tank volumes I decided to focus more on the airless systems.

It turns out that there are really only a few brands even worth looking at when it comes to HVLP (high volume low pressure) airless spray systems. One of the best sites I came across for comparing different systems was They seemed to have everything you could ever want in the airless spray market with items ranging from $80-10,000. Being on a budget I had to look at the final use, frequency of use and convenience factors with a limiting budget of $200. I set this limit as I will eventually get a compressor also, but it won't be a large belt drive unit - rather it will be a direct drive unit with about 2.5hp and only 40L capacity. Serving me enough juice for tasks such as air nailing, sanding, grinding where the flow rate isn't as critical as spray painting.

I digress, the options available to me for the airless spray system came down to the Bosch PFS55 and a few of the Wagner units. Thanks to I was able to compare all of the Wagner units in one hit, along with their prices. The Bosch PFS55 while looking sexier didn't really have the specs on paper to compete with the Wagner 180P. Decision made - that was easy.

Earlier tonight when I got home from work I put in a few calls to Bunnings to see if they would price match. They have a price matching policy where they will beat any advertised price by 10% on an identical stocked item. Indeed this is true but they don't normally match web prices, well at least this is what I was told over the phone initially but the guy on the other end changed his mind and agreed to match the price.

A quick bite to eat with the wife and foreign student and before you know it I'm in the car (with the dog) and headed across town to Bunnings. Going to any hardware store is like taking a small kid to a candy store for me and I tend to drool over the kewlest of gadgets and useful (sometimes not so useful) items. I've already ear-marked a handful of next purchase items including a table saw that has a router and jigsaw mounting system built into the table top. This unit alone will saw so much space and loads of time making individual table top jigs and mounts.

I'll have to wait a few days for the weekend to arrive though before I can put the Wagner through its paces. I am expecting that I will have this cabinetry completed this weekend and moved upstairs to its final resting place. Moving the fish tank upstairs is a whole other issue which is sure to present a rather unique set of challenges.

Time to go now though and begin making a materials list for the king bed. There's a Big Red Shed trip planned for Saturday and I wanna be in and out so I can get back and get the Wagner out. The best thing about this tool is that not only can I use it for paint but I can also use it for oiling, staining, varnishing etc etc.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Record no.5 1/2 Hand Plane

Ok, so it didn't take me as long as I'd thought to date the Record Hand Plane. Looking at each part individually I've been able to narrow down the vintage to between 1932 and 1939. I don't think an exact year will be possible as I think the cutter and backing iron have been replaced at some point. While replaced with Record replacement parts, they are lacking some of the identification marks due to surface rust. I'll get stuck into it with some polish, oil and steel wool and see if I can't rejuvenate the parts and bring it back to it's former glory.

Newest additions to the family

So this morning we were out at the markets and I was admiring all of the old hand tools on offer. Silly me though forgot to get some cash before we went and of course no one takes cards. So, looking and drooling is all I could do. Everything from hand drills to edge planers with mm adjustments to a simple combination square.

After spending the rest of the morning at my father in-laws place with some coffee and morning tea I was handed some rather nice tools as a gift we when went to leave. The little beauties will be put to good use in the coming months.

One is an 'Anant no.5' and the other a 'Record no.5 1/2'.

Anant dates back to to 1949 and had its humble beginnings in a 100 sq.yd building under the leadership of Sh. S.P Chopra, a mechanical engineer by trade. With over 50 years in the industry the company still exists and is still run by the family, Mr Anil Chopra - the son of C.P. Chopra.

At this stage I don't know much about Record Hand Tools but I'm sure I'm going to be spending some time at this site while I try to date the planer. I have a feeling that I will be on the look out for more Record Hand Tools as I find out more about them. The prices on these items at the markets is insanely cheap, yet according to a few sources they could be quite rare and valuable. (oh no, that's all I need - another hobby collecting rare tools).

Time to end this post though as the fish tanks are screaming out for a water change and I really should spend some time finishing off the cabinetry. Hopefully next weekend I can take a trip to the Big Red Shed and Carbatech.

For now, here's some eye candy of the new bad boys taking pride and place in the workshop.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

The Dining Table

This dining table was the first project undertaken last year. I learnt a lot through the building process and have modified the design for what will be future versions of it. For now though here are a few pics of the build process. note the high-tech driveway workshop. :)

The table has since had its legs changed out and is now being used as our coffee table. The legs pictured were a temporary measure to get it inside and functioning as a dining table.

The pine used was all from sustainable forestry suppliers. However, I'm not sure about the supply chain in this instance.

A Short video can be seen here

Items on the agenda

Okie dokie, so last night I didn't get much sleep as my brain was working overtime with all of the possible items I could make and how to make them. So far I've made a dining table and am finishing off some cabinetry for our 4ft fish tank. These items will be the first two that I will retrospectively blog about. The next two items to build after these will be a king bed and letterbox.

Yeah I know they sound like highschool projects but I figure that I'm best off starting with things that can afford me some flexibility and be a little more forgiving should a mistake be made.

A mate of mine, last week, informed me that he works occasionally for a guy who makes high end furniture pieces for the rich n famous. my goal is to get an introduction to this guy and hopefully work for free every now and then to learn the tricks of the trade from a master.

Stay tuned for pics of the dining table and the cabinetry.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Where to begin?

So, being new to blogging I'm not entirely sure where to begin or what to write about. I suppose I should start off with some information about why I'm spending the next 12 months researching, designing and making unique furniture items.

after many years working as a commercial designer I'm turning my hand to producing pieces for me instead of something for someone else. sounds a little selfish I know but to have a creative outlet into works I can call my own is highly appealing. my dream would be to make furniture all day every day and who knows after the journey of the next twelve months that might become a reality.

for some time now I've been making the odd piece of furniture here and the odd piece there. for example dining room tables, coffee tables, bed, cabinets etc. working with wood brings a certain amount of pleasure and relaxation from what is otherwise a rather busy life. I just live and love to create things, more specifically things from wood. the feel, the smell, the look of different woods has a somewhat raw yet homely and warm tone. hand cut soft woods like pine smell vastly different to routered red wood and hand planed oak. wood is such a versatile medium requiring care and precision in its treatment. it demands respect and quite rightly so it deserves it.

my aim is to apply both old and new ideology and methodology in the development of different pieces. In addition to this and being green at heart it is also important that the materials I use are environmentally responsible in all aspects of the supply chain. Although this might not always be possible in the early days as I still have a lot of research to undertake (see disclaimer on retrospective first piece posting that will be upcoming in the next few days). Should I end up making a business out of this it will be of the highest importance to obtain GECA and GreenTag certification. One of the first orders of business is to look at the feasibility of creating an off-the-grid solar power center. To be able to run the workshop purely on solar power would be best case scenario, however in the interim the best I can do is to purchase green energy from my power retailer.

the first item to be produced will be our bed - king size and made from reclaimed and recycled materials. I can feel a trip to the Big Red Shed coming on.

as an aside to this journey my wife and I are also working on a patent product for the medical industry. no doubt elements of that research and process will feature here from time to time.