Saturday, January 31, 2015

Display Frame found... 25 years after it was made!

For much of the period 1983 - 1994, I was working as a woodcraftsman in the beautiful Augusta-Margaret River area of Western Australia. We lived in Augusta, the most southwesterly town on the Australian continent, just 5 miles north of Cape Leeuwin, where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.

Over that time, I did a huge variety of cabinetmaking, joinery work, furniture making and carpentry for many people throughout the district and even around the world via gallery sales and commissions. While we moved 200 miles north to Perth at the start of the new millennium, I still have a strong connection with Augusta, as my parents still live there as do my eldest son with his wife and family.

Most of the family gathered at Augusta for the Christmas/New Year period again this year, so I was back in town for a few weeks over that time.

As usual, on a Saturday morning I went along to the Leeuwin Lions Club's big Op Shop to check out the bargains along with the holiday crowds. In the furniture section I came across some jarrah pieces with threaded ends.
Those threaded ends looked very familiar...
"Hey", I though to myself, "I remember making a bunch of furniture held together that way. I wonder who else has been doing it over the years?".
Then it hit me. "Hang on a minute, that looks very familiar, I think I made this!" I said to myself. "But there's something missing!" I hunted around in the shed and found the end pieces which received the threaded rods. Putting it all together in a pile, I realised that all 16 pieces were still there. Totally amazing! There was some water damage to the old polish, as it had obviously been stored on a verandah or in a leaky shed somewhere, but it was all there and in otherwise reasonable condition!
All 16 pieces were still in existence!

My grandson Jasper was intrigued with the assembled frame.
Then I recalled I had made this piece for a local leadlight glass artist some 25 years ago, and here it was spread around in the used furniture section of the Lions Op Shop.

My resulting conversation with the shop attendant went like this:
"How much do you want for this?"
"Make me an offer I can't refuse".
"How about $10?"
Laughter. "No way, it's unique."
"Ok then, suggest a price I can't refuse".
"You'll never find another one of those. How about $20?"
"Done! I know I'll never find another one, as I made it!! I reckon it was about 25 years ago, I made it as a knockdown adjustable display stand for a leadlight glass artist in Karridale about 1989/90!"
More laughter as he scratched his head. "Well I never... that's the first time anyone has come into here and said they made something that's in here - and then bought it back!".

Having paid the $20, I bundled up the bits and pieces and loaded them into my ute. He was still marvelling and telling others about it. I drove away excitedly as memories flooded back.

The frame was made to be adjustable and portable. "Knock-down" in fact. There are two sets of  spreaders, enabling the display of two different set widths of sashes housing the leadlight windows.
The top spreaders could be moved up and down depending on the height of the sashes to be displayed. The sashes were hung on traditional mirror movements, allowing the leaglight windows to be tilted to best catch the light, and there were two different height positions on these.

The whole thing was held together with jarrah nuts which were wound onto the threaded ends protruding through the side frames. It is quite rigid when assembled.

I remember using a traditional wooden thread box to cut the threaded spindle ends, and a matching metal tap to cut the threads through the nuts. I also recall making a few furniture pieces for sale through some galleries at the time, as I went through my "wooden nut and bolt" construction phase!

I was a very happy boy as I drove away from the Op Shop that day. I had forgotten I had made this unusual piece, and I had plans for its new life.
...Yep, I was like the cat who got the cream!

I have some work to do to clean it up and put it back into service for displaying my own stuff in festivals and workshops, so watch this space for future developments!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sharing the Joy of Wood at the Kids Kerfuffle, Sat 24 January.

While the main festival seasons for The Joy of Wood are in Autumn and Spring, there are a few festival gigs which fall at other times. Last Saturday was one of those. At the invitation of Stirling City Council, we conducted a woodworking actvity for kids at the Kids Kerfuffle in the park at Jackadder Lake, Woodlands, in Perth, Western Australia. This event was part of their Summertime Arts Festival.

A nice quiet start... it didn't stay like this for long!
The park was just oozing with kids all day, and as usual our Joy of Wood woodworking activity was a very popular thing all day. The festival organisers had provided us with a 9m x 3m marquee, with lots of space all round to enable us to spill out in all directions, which we did of course! We had out 8 benches of various heights, with 27 hammers across them, plus the Sawing Station with 4 saws on it. It was flat out all day, keeping Megan and I very busy as we kept an eye on the young Sawyers, maintained the wood supply, and generally helped out people as they create amazing things from the piles of wood pieces, the nails, pincers and hammers we provided. There were many times in the day that crowds of people were hovering around desperately hoping someone would leave and put their hammer down!
People creating wonderful stuff - to the sound of 27 hammers pounding.
Kids and parents together. Nice.
Hammers. I had several conversations with people about hammers through the day. Several people asked me about the hammers, why we use the particular type, and where they can get them. It's a common discussion point in festival settings, schools, and the public workshops that we run. You see, all 27 hammers we had out at Jackadder Lake were Warrington Cross Pein pattern. No claw hammers.
Warrington Cross Pein Hammers come in assorted weights and sizes. 
Cross Pein Hammers are the best type of hammers for kids to use, to learn how to strike a nail.
  • They are nicely balanced, making them easy to use.
  • They come in a range of weights, so you can have the right a hammer for the kid/age.
  • They have two ends! Kids quickly learn the use the narrow end for those tricky corners.
  • They have no claw. This helps kids to learn good hammering technique, like changing the angle of the hammer when a nail starts to lean - rather than just pulling the nail out. Of course, a pair of pincers are good companions to a cross-pein hammer, for removing any nails which are too far gone...  
Cross Pein hammers are the traditional cabinetmaker's hammer. They are the essential hammer for every furniture maker, fine woodworker, joiner, and serious woodworker. Don't let carpenters and "wood butchers" tell you the claw hammer is the only hammer to have. Both have their place.

Meanwhile, do your kid a favour and give them an appropriate hammer. It will revolutionise their hammering skills. This was evident at the Kids Kerfuffle, which was why a number of parents asked me about the hammers.

These Cross Pein Hammers are a joy to use, as hundreds of people found that day!